The club holds monthly indoor meetings between September and April that feature guest speakers on a wide-range of bird-related subjects. Our meeting venue is Northern Rugby Club, McCracken Park, Great North Road, Newcastle, NE3 2DT. All meetings commence at 7.00pm unless otherwise indicated and generally finish between 9.00pm-9.30pm, though a bar is available for post-meeting socialising.
A notice from the Chairman regarding Covid – 19 arrangements.
As you all know at the moment we can’t hold our normal indoor meetings program because of COVID restrictions, so we are going to try out a lecture using Zoom, I am sure many of you will have used Zoom over the last few months but if not you will have to download Zoom onto your computer, we will send you an invite out on the lecture evening for you to join in. Please use the up to date email address you have given to the club, if not you will not be able to sign on.
After the talk, if you could give me any feedback you might have that would be useful (firstname.lastname@example.org)
10th September 2020. ZOOM Meeting at 7-15pm Katie August – “Studying population dynamics in the elusive Northern Goshawk”
Goshawks in the UK have been expanding since their unofficial reintroduction in the 1960s, but have had to face continued threats such as changing habitat structure and persecution. Here, we will explore how these may have influenced the population expansion, and what methods we can use for studying such an elusive forest bird.
8th October 2020. ZOOM Meeting starting at 7-15pm Mark Eaton – “Rare Breeding Birds in the UK”
Mark is the Secretary of the Rare Breeding Birds Panel, and will talk about how the RBBP and other organizations work together, supported by the efforts of thousands of volunteers, to monitor the populations of the UK’s rarest breeding birds. He’ll reveal what this monitoring tells us about how birds are doing – the winners and losers in recent years – making particular reference to some of the species breeding in the North East. And he’ll describe how birders in Northumberland can help improve rare breeding bird monitoring in the county.
12th November 2020. ZOOM Meeting starting at 7-15pm David Kinchinsmith – “Gough: saving one of the world’s most important seabird islands”
Gough Island sits in the middle of the South Atlantic more than 2,500 km from South Africa, the nearest continental landmass. In the 19th century, House Mice were accidentally introduced to the island by sailors. 200 years later, the mice have evolved to eat the eggs and chicks of the 8-10 million seabirds which breed on the island each year. David and Em spent 13 months living and working on the island for the RSPB and Tristan Da Cunha Conservation Department as part of the Gough Island Restoration Programme. The Restoration Programme is designed to eliminate mice from the island and restore it to the pristine environment and haven for seabirds it once was. David and Em will talk about the Restoration Programme, life in the South Atlantic and their work with the spectacular wildlife which breed on Gough Island.
10th December 2020. ZOOM Meeting starting at 7-15pm Edward Towne – “Birds of the Camargue”
The presentation begins with a series of maps showing the Camargue in some detail alongside neighbouring areas like the Crau, the Petite Camargue and the Alpilles range of hills. There are then some slides of the various habitats, including one of the Entressen rubbish dump.
Bird pictures follow with the species name in French (some are easier to guess than others!) and often a distribution map. Herons, flamingos, ducks and raptors to start with and then waders, gulls, terns, shrikes, warblers, finches.
This is very much a summary of the area’s avifauna, which attempts to show the variety of habitats and species within a wide area, which lies also on an important migration highway.
14th January 2021. ZOOM Meeting starting at 7-15pm Peter Quinn – “John James Audubon and Alexander Wilson – The woodsmen and their books”
The Talk this month is about two very well known early naturalists and their art.
There are links with Thomas Bewick and Newcastle, Art and Cultural connections with Britain and Europe, and the History of Art book design.
There are many great images of North American birds throughout the presentation.
11th February 2021. ZOOM Meeting starting at 7-15pm Mark Newell – “Seabird Studies on the Isle of May – Spreading our Wings after 50 years”
The talk will be an overview of the last 50 years of seabird work on the isle. It will cover the different species & areas of work we are involved in, how folk can contribute along with a brief introduction to the isle itself.
11th March 2021. ZOOM Meeting starting at 7-15pm Mike Watson – “Ladakh in Winter”
Mike is a very well-travelled wildlife observer and tonight his talk features the exciting wildlife of the Ladakh region, where he will tell us about the birds and mammals with Snow Leopard and Ibis-bills high on the list, all set in dramatic scenery.
8th April 2021. ZOOM Meeting starting at 7-15pm Dr Rob Robinson of the BTO – “What Birders Saw – and why it can be very useful indeed”
Rob will talk about some of the ways data collected by BTO volunteers is being used to better understand our bird populations, why they are changing and what we can do about it.
The club arranges regular field trips mainly to local destinations. Most are generally one-day or half-day outings within and just outside of the club’s area with transport by private car. All field trips offer the opportunity to meet other members and can be particularly beneficial to newcomers and younger members.
Sunday 2nd August 2020
In Search of Waders; Cresswell, Druridge and Warkworth area.
Leader: Tim Dean. See contacts page for email address.
Musselburgh, for Sea Duck, Grebes and Waders.
Date and travel details tbc.
Date and leader details tbc.
Reviews for some NTBC Fields Trips
Field Trip to Druridge Bay, Warkworth and Boulmer on the 2nd August 2020 – by Tim Dean
The NTBC field trip to Druridge Bay, Warkworth & Boulmer was given a theme of ‘Waders’ and timed for early August to maximise our chances for wader passage. This transpired to be the case as 20 species were seen! There were seven participants including one young birder which is always a pleasing sign these days. We started at 9am at East Chevington where the water level was low after the dry summer. Always means that far more species are able to take advantage of the scrape created to the north of the north facing hide. In amongst the hundreds of Lapwing were a Greenshank, 3 Ruff & a Green Sandpiper with Common Sandpiper further out for comparison. A Whimbrel flew over and a first summer Little Gull was in among the Black-headed Gulls but the highlight was undoubtedly a juvenile Roseate Tern resting on a rock. The scalloped mantle very similar to juvenile Sandwich Tern but with red legs. A quick look over South Pool gave us perched scope views of a female Marsh Harrier.
Moving on we drove to Druridge Pools which was surprisingly quiet given the ideal low water level. A Wood Sandpiper showed well though which is always a bonus. A quick scan of the sea from the dunes gave us good views of the Common Scoter flock maybe 200 strong. Despite Tim’s best efforts we were unable to locate the two Velvet Scoter seen earlier in the day amongst the flock. Next stop was Cresswell Pond where we stayed by the causeway as the hide was very busy. Avocets were still lingering here along with a group of 12 Little Egrets. A recent influx of egrets saw 24 present at one point with a Cattle Egret for good measure.
I was hoping that the returning Caspian Gull might show at Amble Harbour so we drove to have a look. Not one of Tim’s best decisions! I would normally avoid Amble on a Sunday as the market draws crowds but I have never seen it awash with literally hundreds of people. Even parking was a challenge. Certainly the recent lockdown for Covid-19 has resulted in an influx of people now enjoying some freedom. We did quickly look over the harbour away from the crowds but no sign of ‘Casper’ the gull. It seems to be elusive this year in it’s eighth year of visiting late Summer.
Decided to venture onto the other side of the harbour at Amble Braid. Again the timing of this day to take advantage of the rising tide led to many waders being pushed onto the point here. 61 Black-tailed Godwits was a good count at this recently adopted site and a Whimbrel was also noted along with two Knot. Finishing off we moved up to Boulmer. Again busier than I have ever seen before and parking a challenge once again along the main road. However once away from the village and walking north the crowds were soon left behind. The rising tide was just right here as it pushes the waders so much closer for much better views than otherwise possible. Walking up to Longhoughton Steel and thankfully just avoiding a shower we settled to scan through the waders & terns. Two more Roseate Terns were seen, both adults and excellent views. The Golden Plover flock of 80 birds were fairly distant and reticent to come nearer with the tide. A spanking Bar-tailed Godwit in full summer garb was my personal highlight as rarely is this plumage seen here. Also summer-plumaged Turnstone were particularly smart. A couple of Wheatears were our only passerine highlight with autumn passage yet to get underway.
A productive six hours in the field and with pleasant company and the weather just behaving, an admirable way to spend the day. The only commonly seen waders that we missed were Little Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper & Spotted Redshank which gives a good idea of how fortunate we were with the variety on offer today.
Field Trip to Alnmouth and Boulmer on the 18th August 2019 – by Tim Dean
Five of us gathered at Alnmouth beach car park for a walk around the Aln estuary followed in the afternoon along the shore at Boulmer. The focus was to be on waders but we started with a search through the terns gathering on the beach at Alnmouth. It is well known for terns to rest here just south of the estuary. We were lucky to find one Roseate Tern still present amongst the Common & Sandwich Terns, as many have already left having bred successfully on Coquet Island. 124 pairs this year a new record for the island. This was a new species for our youngest participant as Harry (aged 12) was suitably impressed with the scope views. Walking along the northern edge of the estuary we stopped to watch two Little Egrets at close range in the harbour. Many common waders such as Redshank, Curlew & Lapwing were in good numbers. The Aln estuary is an important roost site for many species. Walking around to the bridge revealed some Black-tailed Godwits, a recent development as they now gather regularly here. Pam picked up two Greenshank near the bridge with another found further out & one also on the Hipsburn. Again the Aln sees good numbers of Greenshank each autumn. A picnic lunch was taken with views over the estuary. At one point every wader took to the sky but search as we did we could not locate the perpetrator. Likely to have been a Peregrine as one has been seen recently.Harry and his dad accompanied me to Boulmer and although we managed to get caught in a sharp shower a brief walk here was enjoyed with Turnstone, Dunlin & a Bar-tailed Godwit seen. The Godwit was also much appreciated by Harry who had another tick under his belt. Not many pass through his home town of Doncaster! Also offshore were a few Gannets & Kittiwakes. These visitors who were really appreciative of everything pointed out made the trip special as always a privilege to watch a young birder gradually build up his list. Am sure his first Roseate will be much remembered. A thank you drink was duly handed over to Tim at the Fishing Boat Inn at Boulmer. One of the best birding pubs in the county with easy views offshore from the terrace. A fine way to end a pleasant walk.
Field Trip to Kielder on the 15th May 2016 – Review by Sally Lee
The day dawned sunny and still for our very first field trip with the club which augured well. We met with Martin and 6 other members of the club and set off to walk round the arboretum where, we were reliably informed we would see Redstarts as there had been several pairs the previous weekend. Alas, none were to be seen although one was to be heard but too far away. We did see Flycatchers, Chaffinches, Siskins and a variety of Tits although not in great numbers. We then set off through the forest towards Deadwater Fell. En route, an elusive Blackcap was spotted well hidden in the trees and the highlight of the day, a male Goshawk displaying which we stopped to watch for some time. We then headed to the summit where we saw Meadow Pipits, Ravens and Grouse. Next stop was lunch at the top of Deadwater Fell overlooking the stunning scenery. It was downhill from there, not literally of course. Rather than the obvious route down, we took the more adventurous mountain bike track down to the track. Walking back through the forest, we learned why the word owl and an arrow were painted on a tree. For those that don’t know, it is so that when they are clearing woodland, anyone approaching from behind the tree knows to avoid it as there is an owl box on the other side. Then it was down onto the disused railway line back into Kielder for a well earned pot of tea at the Castle. For us, as new members, it was an extremely informative and interesting day out thanks to Martin and our fellow walkers.
Field Trip to Geltsdale on the 22nd May 2016 – Review by Sally Lee
The sun was shining while we ate breakfast before setting out for our second field trip with the club. We were met at the Visitor’s car park by Steve Westerberg, RSPB manager at Geltsdale who had stepped in as guide for the day. By now, the sky was a threatening grey. Steve had a plan, a female Hen Harrier had been spotted displaying and building a nest on the north side of the reserve opposite Cold Fell so we would head up that way. Luckily Steve had brought his trusty Land Rover Defender so the 6 of us piled in and headed off. First was the off road adventure which eventually brought us to just below the viewing hut on Cold Fell. We could hear the cuckoo and then it was spotted in a tree on the other side of the valley. Down came the rain and hail that had been threatening so we waited it out in the Land Rover before heading up the fell disturbing a Grouse and her chicks on the way. We arrived at the hut and the sun came out. Unfortunately, the Hen Harrier didn’t and nor did the Merlin. We saw Roe Deer and a Green Hairstreak and learned a great deal about the research carried out at the reserve including one very dear to Steve’s heart, the tracking of Whinchats, the first research of its type to be carried out. We headed back down and a Whinchat was heard and seen when Steve trained his scope on it so we could all have a look. Not a lot else was seen when we stopped on the way down but we still enjoyed it. Many thanks to Steve for sharing his vast knowledge of the area with us.